Is the demise of KERS a warning sign for F1?

By Tom Harverson   

F1

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) developed to increase overtaking in Formula One is set to be scrapped next season just a year after it was introduced.

Despite KERS’ ability to provide a surge of kinetic energy that increases overtaking capabilities on the track, the Formula One Teams’ Association has agreed to chop the optional system in a move which will leave many F1 fans disappointed.

At a time when the world’s most glamorous sport is attempting to tighten its belt, the ditching of KERS appears, in part, to be an extension to the cost cutting drive of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA boss Max Mosley.

The past few weeks have seen yet another pantomime in the paddock as some of the biggest manufacturers threatened to quit and set up a rival competition after Mosley announced that the sport would introduce an optional £40m budget cap.

After weeks of infighting, the drama finally climaxed when Ferrari lost a bid in a French court to have Mosley’s plans ruled unjust and it is widely believed that an elevated cap of around £100m could be introduced in the next few years.

But KERS, which adds weight and therefore increases fuel consumption, has been viewed as a dispensable luxury during the current economic climate and it appears that FOTA has made this decision in order to appease Mosley.

Clearly the system’s maiden season has been a flop with only McLaren, Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Renault having snapped up the new technology – of which the latter two have already cut their trial short whist Ferrari is struggling to harness its potential.

But teething problems with new technology are nothing new and arguably during a strong economic period KERS would have survived its embryonic stages to be molded into an exciting new addition that would increase the thrill of watching F1.

Therefore the question is if new and potentially exciting technology is being shunned before it has had time to be developed because of the economic downturn, will F1 lose its attraction?

F1 is a business that thrives on celebrity, glitz and glamour – hundreds of motor homes stuffed full of the world’s A-listers tearing across the planet from one incredible destination to another. But away from the celebrity world still lurks the petrol heads and the engine junkies for whom the thrill is the shriek of an engine, the smack of petrol fumes and the difference between soft and hard tyres.

The downfall of KERS is perhaps a worrying precedent that technology may take a backseat in what is becoming a scrappy dogfight as F1 looks for expendables in the sport.

If pioneering technology disappears, all that is left is a bunch of crazed celebs on a racetrack. If this continues expect race days in the future to be broadcast on E4 and hosted by Davina McCall.

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